Thirty acrobats, actors and circus performers from the Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus School in Battambang arrived in France on Sunday to perform two plays for the first time before an international audience.
The school’s artistic director, Khuon Det, told the Post that members of the group will stay in France for two months while touring their play The Terrible but Unfinished Life of King Norodom Sihanouk and Dream of a Woman Working at the Bar.
“After finishing the first performance in the first month in France, maybe 20 artists will come back to Cambodia and those left will continue performing circus acts.”
Kuuon explained the first play was written by French dramatist Helene Cixous and is based on the personal life of King Norodom Sihanouk, covering a period of Cambodian history between the 1950s until 1975.
The seond of the two plays Dream of a Woman Working at the Bar has a heavy focus on circus acrobatics and was performed at Chenla Theatre last month.
The potentially controversial subject matter of The Terrible but Unfinished Life of King Norodom Sihanouk means that it has not been performed in Cambodia as yet, explained Kuuon who claimed that both King Father Sihanouk and King Sihamoni support plans to show the play here.
Kuuon added that he has written to the Ministry of Culture to request permission for the Lakhoan to be performed in Cambodia in the next two to three years.
Ponleu Selpak Circus performer Chitt Borin told the Post that the physical routines used in the play took months of training to perfect.
“For the performance this time, we are very prepared to perform and we have tried hard to train ourselves to be perfect. Furthermore, we are careful with our act and morality because we do not want other countries look down to us, but admire us with our performing.” In fact Phare Ponleu Selpak has been supported and respected from many other countries for a long time.”
While Phare Ponleu Selpak students have performed overseas in countries including France in the past, Kuuon says after their two performances in Paris the troupe will travel to Japan for the first time early next year.
Phare Ponleu Selpak, or Brightness of the Sun was founded by Khuon Det and a group of fellow actors and in 1994 after returning to Cambodia from refugee camps on the Thai border.
Since then the school has trained over 1600 students in circus arts, acting, painting and visual arts.